Barcelona is still crying. It has now been seven weeks since Lionel Messi, 34, announced that he was leaving his heart after 21 years. A few days later, it was confirmed that the magical flea is moving to Paris Saint-Germain.
A slap in the face to the Catalans. But how much does the club really suffer from Messi’s departure? Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman (58) provided an insight into an interview with Dutch football magazine “Voetbal International”.
Your Majesty? Here, Messi ignores the handshake with his coach(00:21)
Messi’s absence is particularly noticeable in training. “The performance with Messi was perfect. Now we do sometimes passing and shooting exercises, where you have to shoot the ball into a small goal around the post. The other day I saw Ansu Fati shooting from three metres, simply because of a lack of concentration. But he wouldn’t have done that. If Messi was still around. Then he would have been reprimanded, and Messi would have been angry.”
Koeman also knows that FC Barcelona is more than just Lionel Messi. “Of course he had good players around him.” But: “He made the difference. Everything looks better than it is because of it. This is not a criticism but an observation.”
Although Koeman has always known how good Messi is, he was surprised when he had the opportunity to coach him for the first time. “Everything you want to teach a footballer, how to recognize positions, how to receive the ball under pressure, the speed of the ball, the finish – with Messi everything is 10. It is simply not normal!”
Nobody trains more than Messi
This will and constant desire to play football was also noticeable in the trainings. Slack has never been an option for Messi. «Everything was: boom, boom, boom, boom. No frills, everything is functional. “He always wanted to win everything,” Koeman says.
If Messi misses a workout, he’ll be in a really bad mood for the next few days, his former coach reveals. “With him, the older players didn’t lose any practice against the younger ones. Except once, and Messi was so angry about it for a week. Really, a tyrant.”
Now the magical flea is gone. He is looking for happiness in Paris. He hasn’t really gotten there yet. His meager record: three games, zero goals. What about his former club? similarly dim. After four matches, Barcelona is in eighth place in the La Liga table. In addition, there is a miserable 3-0 at home against Bayern Munich. And Koman? He must already be shivering hard about his job.
It seems as if the pain in Catalonia is still deep… (fmü)
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